PolitiFact Fact Checks Hillary on Gun Silencers

Posted: Oct 04, 2017 3:30 PM

Hillary Clinton offered her unwanted take on the mass shooting in Las Vegas earlier this week. Fifty-nine people were killed and over 500 injured after the murderer pointed his gun at a country music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. In a pair of tweets, the defeated 2016 Democratic presidential candidate pointed fingers at the NRA and offered a specific recommendation.

PolitiFact decided to test her theory. In a new fact check posted Wednesday, staff writer Manuela Tobias notes that Clinton and her staff provided “no evidence” to suggest that the Vegas shooting would have resulted in even more casualties if a suppressor had been used. Tobias upended Clinton's narrative with some research of her own. In their analysis, experts discovered that suppressors would not have significantly reduced the sound of a gun blast.

A typical gunshot is around 150-160 decibels, a level that can cause hearing damage. Suppressors can reduce that sound by around 20-30 decibels, depending on the gun, ammunition, temperature and even humidity.

That’s just below the threshold for instant hearing damage. Experts compared the suppressed sound levels to a jackhammer and a jumbo jet on the tarmac 100 yards away. That’s still fairly loud.

Tobias also explained how a silencer would not have allowed the shooter to better hide himself because a silencer may minimize the flash, but it doesn't eliminate it. Additionally, a suppressor would not have increased accuracy to the point that would have had a huge impact on the already deadly attack.

PolitiFact’s ruling:

It’s certainly possible that silencers or suppressors could make some shootings worse than they would be otherwise. But the specifics of the Las Vegas shooting don’t fit that scenario. Experts told us it’s highly unlikely a silencer would have made the Las Vegas shooting even more deadly, because of the distance of the shooter from the crowds and because of the crowded, urban environment where the victims were targeted.

Gun silencers can slightly lower the visual and sound impact of a shooter, but experts agreed the impact would have been negligible in the case of Las Vegas.

We rate this statement False.

Other Democrats are using the Vegas rampage to try and spur a debate on gun control. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for instance, has proposed a ban on "bump stock" devices, which can increase the firepower of semi-automatic weapons. The Vegas murderer used the device during his rampage Sunday.